SXSW 2010: TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL Review

Todd Brown, Founder and Editor
[With horror comedy Tucker and Dale Versus Evil screening at SXSW we now re-post our earlier review by Ryland Aldrich from Sundance 2010.]

Hands down one of the funniest movies at Sundance, Tucker & Dale vs Evil is a smart twist on the horror genre, executed perfectly. From its excellent script right up through hilarious performances by Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine, this movie has a lot to offer audiences. If there any justice, writer/director Eli Craig's first feature will be rewarded handsomely at the box office.

Tucker (Tudyk) and Dale (Labine) are just two everyday beer swilling hillbillies from West Virginia. Tucker has finally realized the pair's long time dream by purchasing their own vacation home deep in the woods. When they arrive, they find it filthy and falling apart. "It's perfect!" they exclaim. The two take off to do some fishing but are soon interrupted by a group of college kids taking a late night dip. When one of the girls Allison (30 Rock's Katrina Bowden) gets startled and almost drowns, Dale jumps into action to save her. The other kids run screaming as the scary hillbillies yell after them, "We've got your friend!"

Hot headed frat boy Chad (Jesse Moss) determines that it is his duty to rescue Allison from the evil hillbillies and mounts an attack on the cabin. Meanwhile, Allison has come to and realized Dale's only intentions are to help. He's even a smart and charming guy. As the college kids approach the cabin, one tries to take Tucker out while he feeds brush into a wood chipper.  But Tucker moves just as he dives and the kid ends up head first in the chipper. Tucker tries to pull the poor kid out, just as his friends round the corner - but it looks to them like he is pushing their friend in. Another kid dies in a similarly tragic fashion and Tucker and Dale are left to wonder what the hell is making these kids kill themselves. Is it a suicide pact? And what real evil lies out in the woods?

This film turns the backwoods horror genre on its head by asking, what if it was all just a misunderstanding?  Both the physical humor and witty dialog had the audience rolling from beginning to end.  Little touches in the backgrounds and underhanded lines after a scene would normally end add a lot. At one point, a prissy college girl complains about having to walk a mile to the road. "Maybe you shouldn't have worn your stripper shoes" another remarks. Later we see her struggling in her ridiculous platforms.

Tudyk shines as Tucker.  Just a simple expression is enough to crack someone up - especially when he is doing something ridiculous like pouring cold beer on his recently chopped off fingers. Bowden is also quite good as Allison. Her big psychotherapy scene is one of the funniest.

There is a whole lot to like about Tucker and Dale. Both horror and comedy fans should be satisfied. For all of our sakes, let's just hope the hillbillies aren't too offended. 

[Ryland Aldrich is a screenwriter and freelance writer based in Los Angeles.  He blogs at enderzero.net]

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